Adirondack Hiking Recommendations for Beginners

So you want to start hiking? Well, this post is for you. I got into hiking a few years ago (Back in 2008 I hiked my first Adirondack mountain, Sleeping Beauty, located outside of Lake George and I loved it.)

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The only things you really need to get started are a good day pack, a water bottle, snacks, and a good pair of hiking boots are you are all set!

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Here are some easy hikes to start out with, all have great views !

Hadley Mountain (firetower)

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Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
Hike time: 2.5 hours
Location: Hadley, NY outside of Lake George (Lat:43.374 Lon:-73.95)

Sleeping Beauty Mountain

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Distance: 7.0 miles round trip (includes an easy road walk to the trailhead)
Elevation Gain: 1,038 ft
Hike time: half a day
Location: Sly Pond Road to Hogtown off of Buttermilk Falls Road off of NY 149 east of Lake George Village (Lat:43.531 Lon:-73.566)

Owl’s Head Mountain

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Distance: 1.2 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 737 ft
Hike time: 1.5 hours
Location: Owls Head Lane, off of Route 73 outside of Lake Placid in Keene. (Lat:44 14.863 Lon:73 49.837)

Goodnow Mountain (firetower)

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Distance: 3.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,040 ft
Hike time: 3 hours, 30 minutes
Location:  Trailhead parking lot is off of route 28N a couple of miles west of Newcomb, NY. (Lat: 43.96018°N Lon: 74.20994°W)

Mt. Jo

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Distance: 2.0 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Hike time: 1-3 hours
Location: Heart Lake Adirondack Loj Trailhead: from Exit 30 take Route 73 towards Lake Placid for 26.5 miles. Take a left onto Adirondack Loj Road and continue 5 miles to the Loj and the parking area.  (Lat: 44.18940°N Lon: 73.9673°W)

Moderate Hikes
These are a little bit more challenging and require a half day of hiking. These are some of my all time favorite hikes!

Blue Mountain (firetower)

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Distance: 4 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,400 ft
Hike time: 4 hours
Location: State Rt. 30 and State Rt. 28, near Blue Mountain Lake in Hamilton County, near the Adirondack Museum. (Lat: 43.8758095119, Lon: -74.4010268039)

Crane Mountain

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Distance: ~6 mile loop
Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft
Hike time: 4-5 hours
Location: Loop trail beginning at the trailhead at Ski Hi Road, Johnsburg, NY. (Lat: 43.54515°N Lon: 73.96237°W)

Noonmark Mountain

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Distance: 5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,175 ft
Hike time:  half day
Location: St. Huberts Trailhead. The parking area is just off of Rte 73 just 7.5 miles west from exit 30 off of I-87. (Lat: 44.12890°N Lon: 73.7725°W)

Hurricane Mountain (firetower)

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Distance: 6 mi round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,000 ft
Hike time:  half day
Location: Route 9N, Keene, NY  (Lat: 44.23530°N Lon: 73.7111°W)

Cascade Mountain
Want to get started in the high peaks? Cascade is the easiest of the 46 and its where most 46ers get their start.

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Distance: 4.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,940 ft
Hike time: half day
Location: Trail is on Route 73 about 6.8mi west of Keen and 4.5mi east of Adirondack Loj Road (Lat: 44.21860°N Lon: 73.8606°W)

Ragnar Trail New England

A spot opened up on my friends Ragnar Trail New England Team and I got in last minute to run last weekend!

I’ve done Ragnar Relay Adirondacks a few times now so I was pretty pumped to try their trail relay. It was held in Northfield, Massachusetts, about 2 hours from Albany, at Northfield Mountain Recreation and Environment Center.

The concept behind Ragnar Trail is a lot different from their regular road relay. A team consists of 8 runners and you set up a “base camp” at the location.

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Each runner has three trail loops to complete and each runner runs the same amount. For us it was the green loop of 3.5 miles, followed by the yellow loop of 4.8 miles, and finally the red loop of 6.7 miles.

Trail Map

Our team captain Loretta set it up so we actually had two teams so we could double up and run with a partner, which in the end was a fantastic idea.

The day on Friday began early–we got to Northfield Mountain at about 9:30AM. I was runner eight so I had a while to wait to run my first leg with Loretta who was my team partner. The weather forecast for the weekend looked grim, but it turned out to be a beautiful weekend! Such good luck.

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I hung out with my team at the start/finish area watching runners come in.

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Finally, at around 11:30PM, Loretta and I started our first leg.

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It was my first time trail running at night, but we were prepared. I carried a small flashlight and wore a headlamp. It was pretty thrilling out there! My first leg was supposed to be the yellow loop, but because we were so behind on time due to our pace as a team, Loretta and I decided to run the shorter green loop instead. We definitely weren’t in this for any prizes so we knew it was okay.

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I didn’t connect the app until about a half a mile in, so the pace is a little off for this leg. I was pleased at how strong I felt on the trail! After we finished, our two Runner 1s were up for their longest leg. Loretta and I went back to camp and enjoyed a hard cider and a late night snack. Then I went to bed until about 7am. Another awesome aspect of this race–no sleeping in vans!  My second leg, the actual green loop, was next up at about 9:30AM! The hardest part about all of the loops was that the first mile or so was directly uphill.

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leg 2

Because we were so far behind on time there was no way we could actually finish in time. Ragnar let us start to double up on runners so we could all finish our legs. Everyone who had the red loop remaining was going to run the red loop (that would be me!) and everyone with the yellow loop left was going to run yellow and so on. About an hour after my second leg, it was time to run the most difficult loop, red.

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Teammates going in to run the red loop.

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Since we were each pretty tired and this trail was so steep, we hiked the majority of it. We knew we would finish the 6.7 miles in about 2 hours. Karen and I decided when we saw the time at 6 miles in that we would aim for a time under 2 hours. We did it!

leg 3

Check out that elevation profile!

Needless to say, it was tough! At about 5:30PM when everyone had finished their loops, our team finished!

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Overall, Ragnar Trail was a great experience and a really fun time. Ragnar really knows how to organize events and they did a great job with this one also. I would really recommend it!

Hiking Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong and Upper WolfJaw Mountains

When previous plans fell through on Saturday, I was free the spend the day doing what I enjoy most–being outdoors. I convinced my friend Brendan to hike part of the Lower Great Range in the high peaks–four mountains and three of the 46: Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong and Upper Wolfjaw. There was the option to add Lower Wolfjaw, but kept that at a “maybe” depending on time and how we felt after already hiking four mountains.

The day began early at 5:30AM-we drove up and stopped for food and coffee on the way. Normally I despise fast food, but with nothing open at that hour except McDonalds, an egg and cheese on a biscuit is decent hiking fuel. We arrived at the Ausable Club parking lot on the AMR to found it full at 7:15. We drove across Rt 73 and parked in the lot for Giant, grabbing one of the the last of two spots. It was a busy day in the high peaks.

We started hiking a little before 7:30AM with the dreaded “road” walk. I don’t mind it, it serves as a decent warm up for me. We got to the bridge over the Ausable Lake at 8:45AM.

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We stopped at Rainbow Falls for a quick glance. Pretty! I was here once before, in much colder weather when I hiked Sawteeth in December 2013.

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Now the real hiking begins!

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Finally, we hit the junction between Sawteeth and Pyramid at 10:20 AM.

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Summited Pyramid at 11:15AM, still relatively clean…

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We could see and hear other hikers over on the Gothics. It looked much further than it actually was.

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Reached Gothics at 11:48AM.

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Stayed for a little bit on the summit and had a snack or two. Headed down to go over to Armstrong.

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Got to Armstrong at 1:40PM; the summit was smaller than I was expecting!

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Some awesome views up here for sure. Didn’t stay long. Onto the next, Upper Wolfjaw. Ladders going down were a little scary.

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Got to Upper Wolfjaw at 2:51PM.

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Congrats to B on his Lucky #13!

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#17 for me–notice the mud now. We felt pretty good. We still had about 5 or 6 miles left to get back to the car, but had the option to add on Lower Wolfjaw. We got the intersection and decided against it. The mountain will still be there and it’s doable on its own.

The hike out via the Wedge Brook Trail was a slog. Our legs were tired after about 15 miles of hiking for  nearly 12 hours. But we did see some pretty falls.

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We were done at around 7:30PM.

The trail we took is highlighted in pink.

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Overall, it was an excellent day in the mountains! It was a long one, but I felt strong. The trail was muddy and wet in some spots, mostly coming from Armstrong and up and down Upper Wolfjaw. I came home with some bruises and scrapes on my legs–but that’s when you know it’s been a good hiking day.

Pyramid, Gothics, Armstrong, and Upper Wolfjaw-  a loop from the Ausable Club Parking
~15 mi RT

Pyramid
Elevation: 4,515′
Pyramid falls short on being a high peak because to be considered one, it must be at least .75 miles from the nearest higher summit and have 300 feet of rise on all sides. Pyramid falls short of this by .45 mile and 79 feet.  Pyramid is also considered a sub-peak of Gothics and is not included in the 46er list. {Source}
Ascent: 3,200′

Gothics
Elevation: 4,734′

Armstrong
Elevation: 4,446′

Upper Wolfjaw
Elevation: 4,203′
Total elevation gain recorded before my GPS watch died, after all the mountains were climbed: 3,339′

Gear used: EMS zip off hiking shorts found at Goodwill, cheapo Walmart workout racerback, Osprey Sirrus day pack, Kelty poles, Garmin Vivoactive GPS watch, Keen Durand hiking boots, Smartwool socks, Platypus 3L Big Zip water bladder

A Lake Weekend and Mineral Sunscreen Review

Last weekend Jordan, his sister Hayley and I went out to their family’s camp on South Hero Island on Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was a fabulous day!  The camp has some amazing views of the Adirondacks!

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The same weekend we also went to Jordan’s friends camp in the Adirondacks at Sacandaga Lake.

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It was the perfect time to try out a new natural mineral SPF 30 sunscreen from Block Island Organics. They recently sent me a bottle of their sunblock to try.

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The main ingredient in this sunscreen is Zinc Oxide, which acts as a UV filter when applied as a layer on top of the skin that is said to scatter, reflect, and absorb broad spectrum ( UVA and UVB) rays and is the most popular ingredient in natural sunscreens.

After trying it out, I really like that this sunblock is natural and free of parabens, sulfates, petrochemicals, phthalates, dyes, and fragrance. Also an added bonus: it’s made in USA. A little bit more about the product from their website:

  • Organic and natural ingredients – zinc only
  • SPF 30 & broad spectrum protection decreases the risk of skin cancer & aging
  • Gluten & nano free, vegan formula, eco-friendly (no ingredients shown to harm reefs)
  • Ultra lightweight and non-greasy formula, can be worn under makeup

The only problem with the sunblock, which was an epic fail on my part for not reading the directions completely, was that it was not waterproof! We spent the entire day on Sunday on Lake Sacandaga, boating, tubing,  and going in and out of the water. After I got out, I reapplied the sunblock after I was completely dry and didn’t get burnt on those areas. However, Jordan applied the sunblock while still wet after coming out of the water. It didn’t absorb completely, resulting in a sunburn.

I think this would be a great sunblock to wear under makeup or if you are just out and about during the day and want to protect yourself from the sun. However, if you plan on being out in the water in the direct sun all day, go with a waterproof /sweat proof sunscreen.

Interested in trying out some natural mineral sunscreen? Block Island Organics has offered a 15% off  discount for my readers ! Use coupon code jenm on your order to receive the discount! Offer is good until June 25th! Check out their website to see some of their products!

Camping at Watkins Glen State Park

Last week a few friends from school and I went camping at Watkins Glen State Park, out near the Finger Lakes! We had heard good things about it and decided stay a few nights.

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We arrived later in the day and set up our tent. There was rain the forecast, so we wanted to get it up while it was still dry! That night we made dinner at our site, veggie burgers, salad and of course, wine!

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The next day we decided to hike the Gorge Trail at the nearby State Park–we could walk there from our campsite.

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Watkins Glen State Park boasts gorgeous views of 19 different waterfalls, 832 steps and 500′ of elevation over bridges, tunnels and even behind some waterfalls. It was such a neat place!

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After our hike of about 7 miles total, we went back to camp and decided to upgrade our tent site to a cabin for $35 extra due to impending storms. It was worth it because our stuff stayed dry! That afternoon we drove into town for lunch at the Wildflower Cafe, part of Rooster Fish Brewing Company–This is the Cocoa Porter.

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Following lunch we walked around Watkins Glen and stopped by Seneca Lake.

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But a stop in the Finger Lakes is not complete with a trip to some wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. We stopped at Castel Grisch and Lakewood Vineyards, two wineries that were close to the campground.

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That evening we had a glamping experience complete with wine and local cheese!

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I would highly recommend camping at Watkins Glen! It was a gorgeous area and the campground was enjoyable!